Over the last few years, the way information is shared and consumed has changed dramatically. The internet, social media and mobile technologies have made information accessible like no other time before it. Content is being consumed at an unimaginable pace—The average person spends around 7 hours consuming content daily (Source: Forbes).
This is where design and branding have made their mark. In order to stand out in such a saturated market, businesses need to create not just compelling content, appealing visuals, excellent customer relationships, but the sum total of all these things, in order to be successful.
In this article, we will discuss how branding and design have helped businesses capitalize on this “Attention economy.” We will also discuss how personal brands have begun to leapfrog over corporate brands in terms of engaging their audience and making a significant ROI.
What is the Attention Economy?
The “attention economy” is the term given to the growing trend of people’s diminishing attention spans in the information age. We have an endless supply of content available at our fingertips, on our social media feeds and on our favorite websites. This has made it difficult to focus on any one thing for more than a few minutes at a time.
As a result, this has altered human behavior, perception, and even culture. This change leads to a massive shift in how businesses approach and treat their customers and clients. In the past, businesses could get away with a “spray and pray” approach to marketing. This would involve simply casting a wide net and hoping that something stuck. But in today’s world of content overload, businesses are competing for people’s attention.
This has forced businesses to be “put their best foot forward.” You can do this with the following:
- Web design that’s user-friendly and easy on the eyes
- Well-crafted and informative content
- Social media presence that’s engaging and interactive.
Focus shift from Quality to Emotion
Maybe you haven’t noticed yet, but people don’t buy just based on quality anymore, we expect it. In fact, we buy more based on emotion and then go about justifying that decision based on logic. Although this might seem ludicrous, celebrated Harvard professor, Gerald Zaltman, has claimed that 95% of our purchase decisions happen unconsciously.
The truth, however, is a bit more complex. According to Michael Harris, in his Harvard Business Review article “, people make decisions subconsciously. Now, these subconscious decisions are formed in the mind of a person intuitively. It is very close to how instinct, which is a combination of innate tendencies and past learning, works. Whereas instinct is mostly about avoiding danger or pain, intuition deals with more ambiguous situations. Here, the options are not clear and the risks are higher. So once this intuitive decision is made, it is conveyed through an emotion to your conscious or rational mind. Your conscious find then wraps the rationale around your emotional decision and that is how we arrive at how the modern customer thinks and buys products.
For example, when an average customer shops at an online store, say Amazon. Amongst the various limiting factors like reviews, star ratings, and budget, they also look for familiarity. If they recognize a brand name favorably or if they associate the product with a positive emotion, the chances are they will add it to their cart. That is how we use our intuition in decision-making.
Nowadays, with more and more technology available to customers, brands have been able to further enhance this intuition-based experience. Providing personalized experiences via AI and machine learning algorithms allows customers to easily find their products and make decisions more quickly.
What does this mean for marketing?
What this means for marketing though is that we need to target the emotional side of a person’s brain if we want to influence their decision making. Branding does exactly that!!
Prominent brands now target people’s need to feel emotion, inclusivity, and like they are part of something so much bigger. And it’s working. A study conducted by NeuroMarketing scientists found that when people see a brand, their brains automatically and unconsciously assign it certain characteristics. For example, if they see a luxurious car brand, they might associate it with power or prestige.
A classic example can be Rolex. Rolex has built a brand that is synonymous with luxury, status, and wealth. People expect quality from any watch purchase. From Titan to G-Shock, Seiko to Swatch, there is a wide range of watches catering to different budgets. But when people are buying a Rolex, what they are actually buying is the class and status that comes with it.
How do branding and design tie into business profit?
You might think this is all well and good but I am more focused on quality and that secures my profits. Why should I invest in something that is so intangible?
The answer is that the consumer market has now expanded to become much more intangible. People are more interested in a connection than in an advertisement. They want consistency rather than a one-off purchase, and they are more likely to buy from a company that is seen as accessible and trustworthy.
For example, let’s consider the brand Cadbury. Their repeated advertisements about celebrating happiness, celebrating family, and spreading joy. This has allowed consumers to think of this brand during happy and joyous occasions. They have created a connection with consumers that is based on an intangible asset – trust and emotion.
Through investing in these intangible assets, Cadbury has been able to build long-term relationships with their customers. This has led to securing repeat purchases, leading to more overall profits. Investing in intangible assets can help any business stand out from the competition and build a strong reputation in the long run.
In this new economy, design and branding help us to gain access to these intangible asset investments. While the actual product might be physically tangible, the intangible benefits such as brand loyalty, customer trust and emotional connection can greatly contribute to a company’s bottom line.
What commands your attention (Why is branding and design important)
The attention economy naturally requires brands to have a presence in order to stand out from competitors. It is more than just having a logo or nice website; it is all of them together. Websites have become more than just platforms for information and logos have become more than identifiers printed on marketing collaterals.
To command attention subconsciously, a clear expression of a brand’s identity must work together with stimulating an emotional connection with the audience through their senses and experiences. Great design can contribute to consumer engagement, encouraging them to interact with a brand in meaningful ways that ultimately lead to customer loyalty and stronger customer relationships.
What attracts attention more than a striking visual? For example, if you see an amazing ad that grabs your attention, you’re likely to remember the brand or product. Psychologists say that in order to be memorable, visuals need to evoke an emotion of some kind. They can use color and contrast to draw attention and make sure the audience knows what they’re looking at.
Whether you are a business brand or a personal brand, it’s important to have visuals that will help you stand out from the competition and make an impact with your audience. Visuals like logos, slogans and videos can be used to capture attention, differentiate your brand and create a memorable experience for consumers.
So, be it on your website, advertising, or packaging, visuals are the key to creating a lasting impression. They help bring your product or service to life and make it easier for consumers to remember you. Additionally, visuals have been proven to increase engagement and lead conversion rates – so make sure your visuals reflect who you are and what you stand for!
Design principles that help influence decisions
Although design choices don’t directly affect a consumer’s purchase decision, it can still influence their perception of your brand and product. Design essentially acts as a carrier to communicate ideas, values and other characteristics of your brand. As such, here are a few design principles to help guide your visuals:
Here are some key principles to keep in mind when designing visuals:
- Contrast: Highlighting the most important elements of your visuals by ensures they stand out from the rest.
- Balance: Achieving visual balance creates a sense of harmony by proportionately distributing all elements.
- Repetition: Repeating a visual element like a color, pattern, or shape unifies the design and creates consistency across platforms.
- Alignment: Properly aligning objects on your visuals creates structure and order and makes them easier for viewers to comprehend.
- Proximity: Grouping related elements together within your visuals helps to visually separate them from other elements.
In terms of catching attention, fonts play a huge role in design. The choice of font for your logo, website, or even packaging can make or break a product’s look and feel. Make sure to consider the shape and weight of the font you choose – it should be easy to read with bold lines that capture attention.
The colors used in design can affect people emotionally. Different colors convey different feelings, and it’s important to use colors that reflect the tone of your brand. Use colors that compliment each other as well as your overall visual aesthetic.
In terms of grabbing user’s attention, typography – in the way text looks, right from the font size and color to line height and spacing, as well as using the right amount of white space between letters – interacts with other elements in your design to imprint your content into the user’s mind.
This goes for not just your website and packaging content, but also any other forms of content, such as posters, brochures and flyers.
Interactive elements such as videos, sliders, motion graphics, and animation should be used to create a visually stimulating experience during showcasing your content. These elements are especially helpful when you want to explain complex aspects of your brand or product. Not only does this make the content far more engaging for visitors, but it is also an opportunity to communicate your message in a concise and creative manner.
Hierarchy is essential for organizing your content in a clear and logical way. It helps visitors to quickly find the information they are looking for, as well as reduces confusion and clutter on the page. You can use font size, colour, and white space to create an effective hierarchy of content that flows naturally from one section to another. This is not necessarily only applicable only for websites, but can instead be applied a rule of thumb conceptually to other forms of multimedia, such as brochures or presentations, and even when editing your video content.
Navigation is just as important as hierarchy when it comes to creating effective content. It should be easy for visitors to find their way around your website or blog, and navigation should be consistent throughout the different pages.
Space, both positive and negative, is crucial for affecting perception and creating an easy-to-read format. Both whitespace and spacing between elements are important for increasing the legibility of the content and helping to guide readers’ eyes through the different sections of said content. In this respect, guides, like Gesalt’s principles, are great tools when it comes to deciding how best to arrange elements and use whitespace.
It is not for nothing that content is considered “king” when building your brand. Great content is needed to drive organic traffic and maintain user engagement. This can be done through the use of blog posts, videos, or other forms of creative content givers that allow users to gain relevant information related to their interests. Quality needs to be key in all aspects when creating content, both visually and contextually.
Your content, i.e., your perspective, product, service, or anything else related to your brand, is the heart of what you need to convey. Taking into consideration visuals such as photography and video, layout structure, and typography are important factors in delivering a strong message across each communication channel that your audience has access to.
Quality content adheres you to your customers and helps to build relationships. Low attention spans have necessitated the need to keep content concise and easily consumable. It’s important to remember that the words we use, especially in digital media, are the most powerful tools at our disposal when it comes to engagement. The usage of text should be minimal, but impactful and relevant.
Websites are often used as the face of a brand and it is important to create content that correctly reflects the identity of your company. Content should be created with care and attention, keeping in mind any business objectives you might have. Incorporating certain words and phrases can trigger emotions and help guide readers towards understanding more about your mission, products or services.
Social media platforms
On social media, content creation is a constant process. Regular updates should be posted in order to keep your audience engaged and informed. The content itself should be carefully crafted and tailored specifically for each platform. Different types of content can be used such as text, images, videos or interactive elements, depending on the type of message you are trying to communicate. Additionally, hashtags can be used to increase visibility.
Collaborating with other businesses or influencers can be an effective way to put more content out there and reach new audiences. Collaborations can take many forms such as co-hosting an event, releasing a joint product or project, or doing a promotion together. This type of content creation is often mutually beneficial and helps to build relationships with potential partners.
Case study 1: Liquid Death Mountain Water
In the case of Liquid Death Mountain Water, it seems inconceivable that a brand that literally sells packaged drinking water could have a cult following. Yet, Liquid Death has managed to captivate people’s attention and gain traction in the marketplace. They have done this through the use of bold and witty designs on their cans.
By designing packaging that is playful, edgy, and memorable, Liquid Death stands out from its competitors. Along with making an impression with consumers, this has led to the growth of the brand, as people are more likely to purchase and interact with a product that resonates with them. On top of that, Liquid Death also leverages creative marketing campaigns such as “Liquid Death Tuesdays” which offer customers discounts on multiple cans of their signature drink every week.
Liquid Death has also taken a unique approach to its distribution model, relying heavily on online sales and direct-to-consumer delivery. This strategy allows the company to connect directly with customers while also offering convenience that is not always available when purchasing canned water from traditional grocery stores or retail outlets.
Overall, its simple, no one would even think to imagine to the capitalize on the irony of calling water liquid death, couple that innovative visuals and inspired marketing, to create a million dollar brand. But, it is exactly that which has allowed them to be successful.
Case Study 2: KSI and Logan Paul’s Prime
This is a brand that is relatively recent. Although not world renowned on the level of Liquid Death, they have managed to establish a strong presence in their field. KSI and Logan Paul are two of the most popular YouTubers today and they used this popularity to create their own merchandise brand—Prime.
Thus far, Prime is an energy drink that comes in 7 flavours. It has capitalized on the massive following of these two personalities. Although both are involved in various other ventures like Boxing, music, WWE, among more, they primarily have an immense viewership of their YouTube channels. First off, they set the tone for their brand by capitalizing on the rivalry between them both. They leveraged the controversial “Pros vs Joes” series which showcased their differences in fighting styles. They also took advantage of social media to build hype and draw attention to their brand.
At present, Prime is available in stores across the US and UK. It is expand its reach even further soon. With the backing of two of the biggest YouTube personalities in the world today, Paul’s Prime has a bright future ahead of it and is likely to become a household name in the beverage industry. The company strives to provide customers with a product that is of the highest quality and consistency. It uses natural ingredients such as coconut water and is slated to be healthier than Gatorade.
Case Study 3: MrBeast’s Burger
YouTube sensation, MrBeast, created MrBeast’s Burger, as a fast food virtual chain, provides people with an affordable and delicious alternative to traditional fast food restaurants and an alternate source of income for restaurant owners. The restaurant has expanded rapidly across the US and Australia, delivering burgers, french fries and canned beverages to customers.
MrBeast’s Burger is popular for its unique approach to fast food by including ingredients that are both fresh and of high quality. The chain focuses on providing customers with an enjoyable experience, while still offering a quick and convenient option to satisfy their hunger. The burgers on the menu are made-to-order and customized with different toppings such as cheese and bacon.
Now, MrBeast Burger is being valuated at over $1 billion and is expected to continue growing in the years ahead. As a result, more restaurants are looking to capitalize on MrBeast’s success by adopting similar strategies when it comes to their menu offerings as well as customer service.
Case Study 4: Kylie Jenner Cosmetics
Kylie Jenner Cosmetics values at over $1 billion dollars and is one of the fastest growing beauty brands in the world. Kylie Jenner has been able to utilize her influence on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to promote her brand and successfully launch new product lines.
In addition to leveraging her existing influence, Kylie Jenner Cosmetics also offers exclusive product launches on social media. This enables her following to buy products before they are available in stores. This strategy has been successful in creating demand for the brand’s products and driving sales.
The success of Kylie’s brand, though owing some success to the Kardashian family and their influence in media, has also been attributed to her ability to create an aspirational lifestyle that captures the interest of her fans. Kylie’s content on Instagram features tutorials and product reviews. This makes it easier for new customers to get started with products from her brand.
Kylie Jenner’s success with her cosmetics company is a great example for other businesses looking to promote their own products or services. By leveraging influence and creating exclusive product launches, businesses can create consumer demand and drive sales. Additionally, by using social media platforms to reach a large audience, businesses can build relationships with their customers and increase brand loyalty. With Kylie Jenner’s success as an example, any business can use her strategies to promote and sell their products.
The biggest takeaway is that influence translates to success and that businesses can use it to their advantage. By either partnering with influencers and leveraging their reach, or creating your own personal brand, brands can create demand for their products or services.
Additionally, by utilizing social media platforms, businesses can build relationships with their customers, increase brand loyalty, and ultimately drive sales. With Kylie Jenner as an example of success, any business can learn from her strategies and use them to promote and sell their products.
This article has attempted to explain why intangibles like design and branding affect a brand’s ROI and how businesses can use them to their advantage. Design and branding are essential tools for businesses, as it can help them create an identity that will drive sales. Furthermore, by leveraging influencers or creating a personal brand, companies can increase their reach and build relationships with customers.